Published on

Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

Political will and efforts

to control temporary immigration

by Michael Scott

In a speech made on March 21, 2024, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced the government’s intention to reduce temporary residence immigration from the current 6.2 per cent of immigration number down to five per cent. This change represents in some ways a change of direction from growth to restraint in response to concerns about the housing shortages in Canada and a general concern about the impact of temporary immigration initiatives. The number of temporary residents has been increasing over the past few years without restraints because it has not been included in the levels planning system, which sets annual targets for immigration arrivals.

The minister appeared at the news conference with his colleague Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages of Canada. The appearance of two ministers at one briefing is evidence of the importance that the government places on providing a world-class and well-managed immigration system. Temporary resident immigration requires some restraint and additional controls to reduce the number of temporary residence arrivals in the short run. The number of arrivals is one variable the government can control.

Minister Miller stated the intention of his department to include temporary residence arrivals in levels planning for the next three years. We need immigration for economic growth but the correct levels to ensure smooth integration. The current level of 6.2 per cent appears to be more than Canada can absorb. Temporary residents have increased significantly to 2.5 million (or 6.2 per cent of our population in 2023). We have the current situation with both the opposition Conservatives and the ruling Liberals looking for ways to control the influx of record numbers of temporary residents, and the impact of both international foreign students and overseas workers in Canada. The minister takes a proactive approach to programs with the growth of families through reunification and the continuing need for Canada to attract skilled workers and the need to honour the county’s humanitarian traditions. He does admit that there are things that can be changed to ensure a smooth transition for new arrivals and alleviate some of the challenges – providing adequate housing and health care for example.

Minister Miller focuses primarily on Temporary Residence Immigration because this class of immigration has not historically been included in levels planning where growth is projected in permanent immigration classes.

Temporary residents cover a significant number of arrivals and can be broken down into a few main categories: 42 per cent are international students; nine per cent are temporary foreign workers who fall under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program; 44 per cent are temporary workers under the International Mobility Program, which includes post-graduate worker permits (PGWP), spousal work permits for accompanying spouses and partners of both international students and overseas foreign workers, and a special provision for humanitarian arrivals such as those fleeing the war in Ukraine. There are also reciprocal youth exchange program that allow Canadian youth to work in other countries (International Experience Class); and persons who arrive under CUAET and other humanitarian pathways as well as asylum seekers who are waiting for their claims to be heard at the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Minister Miller concedes that the current challenges presented by temporary residence arrivals is part of the consequence of the country’s attempt to balance growth in the economy because of the impact of COVID. He points out that the country has been faced with unprecedented levels of conflicts, economic and political upheavals. As a country Canada has a long history of providing safe have for the displaced created by these events where the country has taken in almost 300,000 Ukrainians by the end of March 2024.

In his address, the minister summarized some of the steps taken by government to control the situation. His department has placed a two-year cap for new international students and steps taken to ensure the integrity issues in the program, such as a much-publicized prosecution of 700-plus international students with false documentation. The first step is to include temporary residence immigration in the levels planning exercise. This effort will be added to the existing efforts to control permanent residence arrivals. The minister reminds us that his department will work in a collaborative way with community and labour sectors as well as provincial nominee programs. Minister Miller intends to meet with his provincial and territorial counterparts by early May of the year. He highlights areas of growth the country needs by “bringing in the people we need to build the homes that we are short of, the health care workers we need to ensure hospitals are properly staffed and the early childhood educators we need to ensure people can work.” He is reaching out to Provincial Nominee Programs to obtain their input, cooperation, and addressing areas of concern.

The major point in the minister’s statement is his intention to decrease the temporary resident population to five per cent of total immigration population over the next three years. The temporary class of immigrant arrivals will not become part of the levels planning exercise. Minister Miller remains positive about the steps to control the arrivals of temporary residence newcomers while maintaining a vibrant immigration program.

“Our ultimate goal is to ensure a well-managed, sustainable immigration system built on needs rather than profitability at the cost of integrity and sustainability.”

The question is whether IRCC can control numbers to ensure the integrity of the program but not sacrifice the positive efforts of population growth and economic prosperity.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: mscott.ici@gmail.com.